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Designing Jobs and Preparing Job Descriptions

Designing Jobs and Preparing Job Descriptions

Assessing the need for a job, the way the job is designed and the relevancy and currency of the job description are crucial components of an effective recruitment process. Too often this is neglected or, at best, given only cursory attention due to workload constraints, the urgency to fill a vacant position and what has developed as ‘accepted practice’.

It is often easier to reorganise working arrangements when a position is vacant. It could be a good opportunity to implement aspects of your Workforce Plan and steer the

organisation toward its business and recruitment goals.

Consider recent trends in job design in both the private and public sectors, including:

• Project or assignment based approach to work and jobs, semi autonomous project


• Multiple reporting for different aspects of work or assignments with less emphasis on

traditional hierarchies;

• Cross-functional teams and efforts to break down departmental silos;

• Attention to job results and outcomes, not just processes;

• More jobs that are location independent – work can be done anywhere;

• More employees in integrating and coordinating roles working with consultants, contractors and agency workers (contingent workforce);

• Job design to facilitate more flexible use of resources – broader job roles and job categories, with wider areas of responsibility, more generic job titles and less numbers of individual jobs; and

• Innovative job design to attract employees, facilitate development, enable internal mobility and provide employee job satisfaction.

Potential applicants will use the job description to decide if they will apply for a position.

To this extent it is a marketing document that promotes the job and the organisation.

Poorly drafted job descriptions can cost the organisation if they lead to a lost recruitment opportunity or the choice of an applicant with the wrong skills set.

The job description needs to be prepared in a style and format that will attract the applicants with the skills and characteristics that you are looking for. The job description

should also convey a realistic impression of the work involved. Often there is too much internal jargon or it is written to achieve a particular level of classification.

For example,

the use of acronyms such as OSH and EEO or ‘buzz’ words such as ‘strategic alliances’ and a ‘synergistic approach’ often confuse and can deter potential applicants.

Things you can do

 List all the different job titles and see if they can be rationalised to provide more flexibility and eliminate confusion.
 Identify similar jobs that could have one job description, e.g., team leaders.

 Use broader job descriptions supplemented with an attachment that is specific to the role and easily updated. Explain where the job fits in the organisation and why it is


 Emphasise the results to be achieved in the job rather than work processes and tasks – this encourages a fresh approach to the way the job is performed.

 Remember, the term ‘selection criteria’ may not be familiar to many applicants from outside the Public Sector.

 Develop examples of common responsibilities and work-related requirements that can be used to prepare job descriptions at all levels. Encourage common content

and flexibility.

 Write the job description in a user-friendly format that is suitable for the target audience. Make sure it is free of jargon and easy to understand.


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